By Shawn McMullen
Many Christians I know struggle with the idea of finding and following God’s will. Some of them become anxious about it, fearing that if they fail to find the right formula for discerning his will or miss a hidden clue somewhere along the way, they’ll be destined to a life of mediocrity at best, or complete failure at worst.
I understand their concern, but frankly, much of it is unfounded. If we know and follow God’s revealed will—for salvation (2 Peter 3:9), sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3), gratitude (5:18), and, if called upon, to suffer for Christ in a way that brings honor to him (1 Peter 3:17; 4:19)—then beyond these things we are free to do whatever we please.
Still, is there one best thing you can do for God with your life? Is there a single vocation, a specific ministry, one unique endeavor that represents the very best use of your time and talents? I’d like to think so.
This way of thinking doesn’t mean we revisit the anxiety we felt when we feared we were missing out on God’s will for our lives. If we know we’re living according to his revealed will, everything’s good. But once we know the freedom that comes from following his revealed will, it’s still appropriate to ask, “Lord, is there one best thing I can do for you?”
The apostle Paul may have been thinking along these lines when he prayed that the believers in Philippi would “be able to discern what is best” (Philippians 1:10) or when he instructed Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved” (2 Timothy 2:15).
God deserves our best. So if there’s something out there that represents the best we can give him, we should pursue it. But how?
Let’s begin with Psalm 37:4: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It seems to me there is a two-part application to this verse—that as we delight in the Lord, he gives us (or places within our hearts) certain desires, and then graciously gives us the things he has led our hearts to desire. This may be similar to what Paul described in Philippians 2:13 when he wrote, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (emphasis added).
The first step in seeking to do the best you can for God is to delight in him—to grow deeply in your love for him and to become passionate for his glory. From there, ask yourself what it is you would most like to do for him. What talents would you like put to work for him? What specific thing would you like to accomplish for God in your lifetime?
Then ask God to help you “discern what is best.” Perhaps you’ll want to pray a prayer like this:
Lord, You gave me your best when you sent your Son to die for my sins. Now I would like to give you my best. If there is one thing I can do with my life that would bring you the greatest glory, please give me the wisdom to recognize it and the commitment to pursue it. Amen.